Voters to determine fate of Harry Dunn who left Capitol Police job (and pension) to run for Congress

Harry Dunn tells theGrio he wants to be a "fighter" for democracy against Donald Trump and Republican allies like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 27: U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn testifies during the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on July 27, 2021 at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, DC. Members of law enforcement testified about the attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump on the U.S. Capitol. According to authorities, about 140 police officers were injured when they were trampled, had objects thrown at them, and sprayed with chemical irritants during the insurrection. (Photo by Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images)

When Harry Dunn resigned from his job as a U.S. Capitol Police officer, he admitted it was a “crazy” thing to do. After more than 15 years on the force protecting members of Congress, Dunn resigned about four years shy of being able to collect a pension to trade in his police badge for the title “congressman.”

“I walked away from a job for just an opportunity,” Dunn told theGrio during a phone interview the day before his Tuesday Democratic primary election for Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District. Acknowledging the stakes of the crowded and competitive election, he added, “This ain’t no shoo-in… it’s a tight-ass race.”

After risking his life to defend the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, as a mob of mostly white Donald Trump supporters sought to violently stop the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election, the 40-year-old said he couldn’t resist the urge to run for office. 

As former President Trump, whose false claims of voter fraud in 2020 led up to Jan. 6 and gave rise to a Republican Party comprised of election deniers, Dunn said the country is at a pivotal moment in which Congress needs fighters to defend American democracy. 

“We need to fight back against the Marjorie Taylor Greenes and Donald Trumps,” he argued.

Greene, a two-term far-right U.S. congresswoman from Georgia, is a loud cheerleader for Trump and has ferociously defended him amid his 2021 impeachment and criminal indictments. She and other Republican members of Congress have downplayed the violence of Jan. 6, pushed conspiracies like suggesting that at least one rioter was an FBI agent in disguise and have described rioters criminally charged for their actions as victims of a two-tier system.

Greene went as far as arguing that the Jan. 6 convicts were being “treated as political prisoners.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., speaks during a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on a resolution “stating that President Donald Trump did not engage in insurrection,” on Tuesday, February 6, 2024. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“Marjorie Taylor Greene isn’t interested in legislating. She’s a chaos person. That’s what she wants. She thrives off of that,” said Dunn. The congressional candidate said, “There’s a lot of people just like her” in Congress, including House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio., and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., who have led impeachment investigations of President Biden without any credible evidence of wrongdoing to support their efforts. 

Dunn argued that Democratic lawmakers willing to stand up against Republicans in Congress are why GOP lawmakers “have not been successful.” He explained, “You have fighters right now in Jamie Raskin [U.S. representative from Maryland], Stacey Plaskett [U.S. delegate from U.S. Virgin Islands], Jasmine Crockett [U.S. representative from Texas].” He added, “That’s what these times call for.”

Though he admits his top competitors in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, Maryland State Senators Sarah Elfreth and Clarence Lam, are “experienced” and have done “fantastic work for the state of Maryland,” the state’s constituents need someone who will be the kind of champion to “fight back” against Trumpism in Washington.

“Everybody’s talking about, ‘Let’s move on from Jan. 6.’ Sure, that would be great if people understood the severity of it. If Donald Trump was held accountable for his actions,” said Dunn. 

Trump, who has vowed to use the powers of the executive office to go after his political enemies, stands a good chance of being elected back to the White House — something Dunn wants to help Democrats prevent. 

President Joe Biden and Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn share a laugh before Biden presented him with a Presidential Citizens Medal during a ceremony to mark the two-year anniversary of the January 6th 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol in the East Room of the White House January 6, 2023. Biden awarded over a dozen Presidential Citizens Medals to police officers who defended the Capitol and state officials who resisted pressure to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“He’s telling us what he’s gonna do. He told us that he admires dictators. He wants to be one only — for a day. That’s what he says,” he warned. “At the end of the day, we only will have ourselves to blame if he gets in office.”

In addition to the chance of becoming a member of Congress, Dunn told theGrio he looks forward to working to make a difference in Maryland and across the country by tackling key issues like codifying federal abortion rights, passing common sense gun reform and passing the police reform legislation known as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Dunn also would love to see Democrats take back the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. If the party is successful, it would mean history for U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., the current House minority leader, who would become the nation’s first Black House speaker.

Dunn, who described Jeffries as a “great human being” he’s gotten to know over the years, said it’s not lost on him that the very U.S. Capitol building he helped defend on Jan. 6 was built by Black enslaved Americans. Seeing a Black man take up the prestigious gavel of House speaker and potentially being one of the members of Congress to cast his vote for him is something Dunn sees as a potential full-circle moment.

“Symbolism is real and representation matters,” he told theGrio. “Go and show off ancestors … we’re their wildest dreams as people say. That is incredible to me.”

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